Midlife Crisis: The adventures of a thirtysomething first-time horse owner
At age 32, Amanda Smith bought herself something she’d been wanting her entire life: a horse. Today, she pens a tribute to Horse Husbands.
For All the Horse Husbands…
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. My Wonderful Husband and I agree that it’s really a Hallmark Holiday. I used to feel slightly offended by this opinion, but I’ve come to realize that WH is right… we don’t need the 14th of every February to remind us to express our love for one another. I hope that I show my love and appreciation for WH every day. He does and puts up with so much!
When we were only dating, he allowed himself to be dragged to the Foxhall 3 Day Event. He said yes to half-leasing a horse 6 years ago… Then he said yes to a full lease of a horse, the purchase of a very (very) nice saddle for that horse, and eventually the purchase of that horse. He is that horse’s personal peppermint feeder, and if he isn’t coming to the barn with me, WH tells me “Don’t fall down!” as I leave the house.
When I am fed up with my job and decide I want to quit because I don’t really love it and I want to “do something else with my life”, he gives me the look that says “You won’t quit like that. You’re too loyal a person… .” When I tell him I got an interview somewhere, he leaves me notes to boost my confidence. When I get the dreaded rejection letter, he tells me how smart I am, how those people don’t know what they’re missing, and that I will find something better. And when I bust out an amazing fundraising event that leaves me exhausted, he tells me Good Job.
When I have an emotional breakdown moment of doubt about my life because I fell like everyone else my age has their shit together, he tells me not to worry about it. When I can’t decide between having a kid and keeping my horse, and I feel horribly selfish, he stands quietly listening, waiting for me to calm myself down, then offers a warm embrace. When I was devastated by the news last spring that my mother has Alzheimer’s – and I can’t even begin to explain to you what that is like—this amazing human being that married me … held me for hours as I sobbed myself to sleep.
By stark contrast WH has his shit so together… amazing job he loves, colleagues that look up to him in his field… about to get yet another Master’s degree. He’s brilliant and composed, a stark contrast to how I view myself… bumbling along beside him. But then… what fun would we be if we were both super awesome? Someone has to play the fool.
Despite all my shortcomings and the fact that I don’t have any direction to my life, WH loves me, supports me, and is there for whatever I need; a hug, a laugh, a stiff drink… sometimes cash for the farrier (let’s be real people…I work for a non-profit!). As Toby Keith would say… he is the Abbot to my Costello… he is the Fruit to my Loom.
Truth is… I can’t imagine my life — with or without a horse, a kid, a crazy family or dream job—without him. Its my crazy life, and I’m so glad he’s here to balance things out. And if I don’t say it or show it often enough, on this Valentine’s Day I want to let you know… William… I Love You.
Photos: Lennon-Freire Photography
Hello Horse Nation!
My name is Amanda… and I am really excited to be a part of this neat little venture! In the coming weeks and months we’ll get to know one another better, but for now I’ll just give you the nuts and bolts.
I’m 34 and have four boys in my life… an amazing husband, two riotous coonhounds –Hank and Gus–and a thoroughbred gelding named Alfie. The hubby, pooches and I live in The Wee House, about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta, and Alfie spends most of his time hanging out with his buddies at an awesome, laid back boarding facility not far from home. I sort of fell into a career in the non-profit arena, and while it is rewarding, it makes horse ownership a bit tricky. So you may just see some inexpensive non-horsey “hacks” from me, and other things I’ve repurposed for a life at the barn.
Alfie is my very first horse, and from day one horse ownership has been a wild ride. In the past year, there have been some personal matters that have made horse ownership even more challenging and emotionally tormenting. Reconciling common sense, emotions and doing the right thing for ourselves and our horses is something we all struggle with, and when you add family and loved ones to the mix, it can be overwhelming. I try to live by the motto “let go laughing,” although I admit that lately I find myself doing a lot more “cling and sob” type things. But we’re all human; we all have issues. And sometimes we feel isolated in our trials. So I’ll share a bit of my story with you with the hope that you find you aren’t alone in your struggles dealing with Life, and perhaps make you chuckle as I bumble along.
Until then… have a good ride.
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